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Nov
2013
Monday 11th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

Livestock should of course be kept warm, but so should pensioners, low-income families and people on benefits.


Tory multimillionaire MP Nadhim Zahawi pronounces himself "mortified" to discover that he "made a mistake with my electricity claims."

He apologises "unreservedly" for this oversight and undertakes to repay part of the £5,822.27 claimed from the taxpayer in relation to electricity and heating oil for his sprawling Warwickshire estate.

Zahawi apparently failed to notice the contradiction between having two electricity meters and receiving just one bill.

Fortunately, he found time to examine his financial affairs after the Sunday Mirror blew the whistle on his shameless milking of the public purse, noting that taxpayers were paying to keep horses in his riding school warm.

Livestock should of course be kept warm in cold weather, but so should state pensioners, low-income families and people living on benefits.

It says something about conservative coalition Britain that a rich businessman's horses are more cosseted than poor people.

Needless to say, there will be no further consequences for an overburdened wealthy MP who fills in incorrect information on a claim form and signs to confirm its authenticity.

In contrast, what would be the official reaction to someone claiming in-work benefits who made a mistake and said how mortified they were to discover it once a social security investigating officer pointed it out?

Again it's one rule for the gilded elite in Westminster and another for those who pay the price of their anti-people policies.

Most voters, even though they may grumble about MPs, appreciate that many are honest and hard-working.

They will accept, perhaps grudgingly, the need for those representing constituencies far from Westminster to have a second home - perhaps a small flat - in easy reach of Parliament and to be assisted with expenses to cover additional outgoings.

But where is the justice in paying thousands of pounds in expenses for energy bills to an MP who owns a £5 million house in London, along with three other flats in the capital that he rents out, but designates a rural retreat, complete with family business, as his second home?

Zahawi is said to be a close confidant of David Cameron and an assured future minister.

And why not? This character would ease himself seamlessly into the coterie of well-heeled politicians who lecture the rest of us on self-sacrifice in the national interest while lining up unabashed to fill up at the public milch-cow.

The Prime Minister would certainly feel Zahawi's pain after Cameron showed his disdain for public opinion by claiming £680 for clearing wisteria from the chimney of his Oxfordshire pile and had to repay nearly £1,000 in exaggerated expenses.

Chancellor George Osborne, who keeps public spending on a tight rein, cutting services, jobs and pensions, saw no contradiction in getting the taxpayer to pay the mortgage of a Cheshire farmhouse and land - his "second home" - reaping a £450,000 windfall when he sold it.

And Liberal Democrat David Laws, who falsified his housing expenses claim and had to resign as chief secretary to the Treasury, has since been welcomed back into ministerial office.

Zahawi is no exception. He embodies the air of entitlement peculiar to wealthy MPs.

Each of them should have resigned. Some of them ought to be in jail, but because they make the rules they get off scot-free to continue doing what they do best - screwing the rest of us and justifying it on grounds of fairness.




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